Cadborosaurus is a sea monster from North American folklore.
It is an alleged marine monster native to the North American Pacific Coast. Multiple alleged sightings have occurred in and around Cadboro Bay, south of Vancouver Island, Greater Victoria, British Columbia.
Eyewitnesses described the alleged species as a horse- or camel-headed mega-serpentine creature.
The name cadborosaurus (nickname: caddy) comes from Cadboro Bay and “-saurus,” a Greek suffix that means a reptile or lizard.
Alleged eyewitness accounts described cadborosaurus as a serpentine creature, about 40-70 feet long. It had humps and tended to roll its body into coils.
It had an equine (horse-like) or camel-like head, a long neck with hair or mane, and front and back flippers similar to the flippers of a walrus or sea lion.
Some accounts claimed it had large, dark eyes and an overhanging upper lip.
A couple from Victoria, B.C., who reported a sighting in 1933, described the cryptid as a serpentine creature with the head of a camel.
It used its front and back flippers to paddle in the water. Its front flippers also helped prop up its body like a seal. The back flippers formed a tail fin structure for swimming like a fish.
Two hunters described it as having a row of saw-like teeth.
Sightings and Tales
There have been hundreds of claimed sightings of cadborosaurus since the mid-1900s when the first alleged sighting occurred.
Cadborosaurus sightings 1930s
A couple from Victoria, B.C., reported the first sighting in 1933 while on a yacht cruise on Cadboro Bay.
Two provincial government officials also reported seeing caddy in 1934. All witnesses agreed it was a serpentine creature with an equine or camel-like head.
In 1934, two men fishing in the bay reported sighting two serpent-like creatures, one about 60 feet long and the other much shorter.
In another sighting, two hunters who had killed a duck were trying to recover it when a monster rose from the water and gobbled it up. The creature stopped to lunge at a group of seagulls before diving back underwater.
Cadborosaurus: The Narden Harbor carcass photos
In 1995, cryptozoologists Edward L. Bousfield and Paul H. LeBlond published a report claiming to have found photographic evidence of the existence of cadborosaurus.
The authors reported that in 1937, whalers at the Narden Harbor Whaling Station in the Queen Charlotte Islands (now Haida Gwaii), off the northwest coast of British Columbia, snapped a series of photos that appeared to show the carcass of a previously unknown vertebrate species.
The whalers reportedly found the remains of the 20-foot creature in the stomach of a sperm whale they caught. It had a horse- or camel-like head, an elongated serpentine body with side fins, and a fin-like tail.
B.C. Museum officials who examined part of the carcass thought it was likely the fetus of a baleen whale (parvorder Mysticeti).
However, Bousfield and LeBlond christened the creature Cadborosaurus willsi after the journalist Archie Wills, who reported extensively on cadborosaurus sightings and nicknamed the cryptid “caddy.”
The true zoological identity of Bousfield and LeBlond’s Cadborosaurus willsi became the subject of debate.
Some cryptozoologists suggested it was the extinct marine species zeuglodon (genus Basilosaurus).
Captain Paul Sowerby
In 1939, Captain Paul Sowerby claimed that he and his crew sighted a caddy about thirty miles off the north pacific coast. They saw a serpentine creature rising about four feet above the water.
Sowerby said that at first, he thought it was a polar bear, but when they got closer, he realized it was a 40-foot creature with big eyes.
Captain William Hagelund
In August 1968, Captain William Hagelund claimed he caught a “baby sea serpent” near De Courcy Island, off the coast of southwestern British Columbia, Canada.
Bousfield and LeBlond (1995) suggested that Hagelund’s catch was the juvenile form of cadborosaurus. They speculated that because the “baby serpent” appeared to have been living independently of adults, the cryptid species was likely reproductively similar to reptiles than mammals.
Reptiles, unlike mammals, produce young that become independent immediately after birth, and the adults do not give their offspring parental care. On that basis, Bousfield and LeBlond (1995) proposed that caddy was a reptile.
However, in an article published in Scientific American in September 2011, the British vertebrate paleontologist Darren Naish suggested that Hagelund likely caught a Bay pipefish (Syngnathus leptorhynchus) and not a “baby sea serpent” as he claimed.
Naish dismissed Hagelund’s testimony as anecdotal and unsupported by empirical scientific evidence. He argued that because pipefish catches were rare, Hagelund was likely unfamiliar with the species.
In 1991, Phyllis Harsh reported catching a 2-foot juvenile caddy near San Juan Island but released it.
Kelly Nash video
In 2009, Alaskan fisherman Kelly Nash captured a video (see below) that purportedly showed a caddy in Nushagak Bay, southwest of Alaska. In 2011, he shared the video on Discovery Channel’s Hillstranded.
What is cadborosaurus
Experts have tried to use popular descriptions of the cadborosaurus to guess which common animal it could be.
They have suggested various animals, including:
- Zeuglodon (genus Basilosaurus)
- Sea lions (clade Pinnipedia; Family Otariidae)
- Seals (clade Pinnipedia), such as the Northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris)
- Walruses (clade Pinnipedia; species Odobenus rosmarus)
- Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)
- Conger eels (genus Conger)
- Pipefish (subfamily: Syngnathinae)
- Giant oarfish (Regalecus glesne)
- Basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus)
Many biologists believe most cases of caddy sightings were due to mistaken identity. Based on the conflicts between various eyewitness descriptions, Naish concluded that caddy sightings likely involved several marine species (Darren Naish, 2011).
Below are three of the most favored candidates for caddy:
Based on eyewitness descriptions of cadborosaurus, some cryptozoologists believe that the alleged sea serpent may be a surviving species of the genus of sea animals known as Basilosaurus.
Basilosaurus is an extinct prehistoric genus of whales that lived in the late Eocene epoch, about 41.3 to 33.9 million years ago.
Scientists named the genus Basilosaurus (“king lizards”) because, at first, they thought they were reptiles. They later realized that despite looking like reptilians, they were, in fact, marine mammals more closely related to whales than reptiles.
Cryptooologists have often fallen back on the Mesozoic era (252-66 million years ago) plesiosaurs to explain away the supposed mystery of many alleged serpentine cryptids, such as the Loch Ness monster.
Reptilian species of the order Plesiosauria flourished in the oceans and some freshwater habitats during the Triassic (252-201 million years ago) and Jurassic Periods (201.3 to 145.0 million years ago) of the Mesozoic era. They suddenly went extinct toward the end of the Cretaceous (145.5 and 65.5 million years ago).
Many had small heads, long necks, elongated bodies, and flippers. The so-called Plesiosauromorph body structure made them attractive candidates for alleged cryptid sea monsters, such as cadborosaurus, Chessie, and the Loch Ness monster.
Sea lions, seals, and walruses
The obvious anatomical similarities between eyewitness descriptions of caddy and marine mammals of the clade Pinnipedia, such as sea lions, seals, and walruses, led some to suggest that caddy might be one of these three types of animals.
Some biologists consider sea lions (Subfamily: Otariinae) the best fit for eyewitness descriptions of the cryptid.
Others consider the Northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris) the best fit. Elephant seals are large-sized sea animals with prominent proboscis.
Male individuals often reach 16ft or more in length and weigh up to 2,300 kg (or 5,100 lb).
Giant oarfish (Regalecus glesne) live in various types of marine environments.
They are the longest species of extant bony fish. The species have long, narrow bodies and reach 20 ft in length. The creatures also have fins running along the entire length of their body.
They swim with serpentine undulations, which could explain descriptions of caddy as a snake-like creature.
The basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) is a large species of shark. It has an elongated body that may reach 26 feet in length.
The species is second in size only to the whale shark. It feeds on plankton.
|Caddy, Cadborosaurus willsi
|Canada, United States,
|Monster, Sea Monster
In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents, Bernard Heuvelmans, 1969.
LeBlond, P. H. and Bousfield, E. L. Cadborosaurus, Survivor from the Deep, 1995.
https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/tetrapod-zoology/baby-sea-serpent-no-more/, “A baby sea-serpent no more: reinterpreting Hagelund’s juvenile Cadborosaurus,” accessed on February 26, 2023.
https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/tetrapod-zoology/the-cadborosaurus-wars/, “The Cadborosaurus Wars,” accessed on February 26, 2023.
https://www.timescolonist.com/local-news/without-a-specimen-cadborosaurus-remains-a-myth-scientist-says-4634641, “Without a specimen, Cadborosaurus remains a myth, scientist says,” accessed on February 26, 2023.
https://scienceblogs.com/tetrapodzoology/2009/03/statistics_seals_sea_monsters.php, “Statistics, seals and sea monsters in the technical literature,” accessed on February 26, 2023.